I’m Angry, and I’m Getting Angrier

walter crane red riding hood wolves among youThe late happily very much alive and still making music, Bobby McFerrin, better known for the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” wrote a very different song that has been going through my head the last couple of days.  It’s called “I’m Angry,” or ‘Gima’.  I have it on a CD I’ve owned for probably 20 years, but probably haven’t listened to for at least 10, yet the last couple of days the refrain keeps going through my head, “I’m mad, I’m mad.  I’m angry…”

You can listen to part of it here at Amazon:  Angry (Gima)  It’s got this strangely compelling, driving, dark rhythm that fits my mood.

I am reading things that make me angry, that ought to make everybody angry.  This young woman was abused as a young teenager by a man ten years her senior who attended her church. After several years of abuse, she went to the police:

“The process that followed was long, painful, traumatic and awful. During this time, I was offered little to no support from the church I attended, in fact, on the day of the sentencing my former pastor and my abuser’s pastor sat on *his* side of the courtroom, successfully compounding my own feelings of guilt and shame. I felt terribly alienated and many times regretted every saying anything about the abuse. Sadly, my story did not have a just ending. My abuser, who was originally charged on 3 counts of “child sexual abuse”, “lewd and lascivious acts”, and “forced sexual contact”, was convicted of “injury to child”- the same term that would have been used had he slapped a child on Main Street. We were encouraged to go to mediation rather than to trial, and at the last minute the visiting judge decided the sentence/label of ‘sexual offender’ was too harsh. He equated what had happened to a “homeschool teenage love affair”, despite the fact that my abuser was 10 years older than me. As a result, rather than being labeled as a sex offender (which was the only outcome I desired), his charge was lowered and he was sentenced to 4 months in Cottonwood prison and a few years on probation (which he was released from early a few months ago). After serving his sentence he was free to go. Free to live and roam wherever he pleased, which just so happened to be right back to Moscow, back to his lovely old church, back to MY town, where he now lives a normal life, owns his own construction company, and eats at his favorite downtown restaurants.”

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad
I’m mad, I’m mad
I’m angry…’

Here at this link she updates, with some graphic words that are not out of line, what has since happened and how this man has gone on to abuse others- in the same church where he abused her.

‘…What gets my goat, what gives me pain
Wrinks up my crown, fills me with shame
Heats up my blood, drives me insane
Knowin’ my brothers they ain’t all treat the same…’

And sisters, yes, and sisters.

“Doug Wilson thinks that Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is not a victim; that she was a willing participant in an affair with Doug Phillips, and here’s his logic:

  1. Doug Phillips sexually assaulted her
  2. She cried and asked him to stop
  3. He did not stop
  4. She didn’t immediately leave his house. Therefore, it must have been consensual. Therefore, it’s adultery, not abuse.

In so doing, Wilson is keen on providing apologetics for even the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, claiming that he has to assign blame to the women who are used inappropriately by the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, because to do otherwise would mean they have no agency.”

[…]

“Undoubtedly, Wilson and I do agree on one topic: all other things being equal, it would have been better for Lourdes to have left Phillips’ home immediately. I imagine this has been a reoccurring theme in Lourdes’ head, too. Why didn’t I leave? Why couldn’t I find my voice, that first night? The second night? Why, God? Why was I silent? Why did I let him do that to me for so long?”

“This may come as a surprise to Wilson, but not acting in the face of abuse is not limited to Lourdes Torres, and this in no way means that the victims are consenting to the abuse.”

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m angry
I’m all wound up, I’m all tied down
Balled up inside & spinnin’ all around
My pain is deep, my hurt is so wide
I hear you cryin’ freedom but freedom is denied…’

I’ve written before about how abusers are not scary, ugly, irrational people on the surface. They don’t get victims by showing their wolflike teeth and claws.  They get victims by being fun, amusing, charismatic, kind people.  They are always watching out for the gullible whom they can use for their own ends.  They make you question your own judgment- did I really just see what I saw? Hear what I heard? Did that mean what it sounded like, or am I being too suspicious? They get a huge kick out of watching you squirm with your self doubts while they are literally abusing somebody practically under your nose.

The woman blogging here was married to a preacher who abused children for decades (beginning when he was 14), and she had been trained by him to completely doubt herself.   Her preacher-husband

 “”was the “party planner” for the kids’ birthday parties, church parties, camp talent shows, and family church camping trips.  He would buy book after book with party ideas and then study these books for weeks on end.  That is weird in and of itself.  Usually a party is a very uncomplicated thing — cake, ice cream, and having the kids run around and play.

Not so with the man I married!  He planned games that were most often played in thedark.  And, he ALWAYS insisted that he was the one to chaperone!  Keep in mind that most parents don’t want to be bothered with a group of twenty or so rambunctious kids, so they were more than willing to let him have the kids for the night of fun.  Besides that, he was a preacher!  How perfect was that?  Sending your kids off to the preacher’s home for an evening of campfires, night tag, running through the field, scavenger hunts in the dark, and lots of good food.

I will be the first one to admit that there was no way I wanted a house full of kids running around screaming and tearing up the place.  So, when John planned these outside activities I never gave it a thought until………………..

One morning following an overnighter at our home (that included a camp fire and sleeping outside in the woods following a very well planned out scavenger hunt by John) a father of one of the girls that attended was standing at the door.

“Hi!  How are you?”

He didn’t look happy.  He had come early to pick up his daughter.  He asked where they were staying and I pointed to the direction of the path in the woods.  He was kind to me, but firm.  “Sandy (not her real name) won’t be spending the night at your home any more.””

She asked the father a few questions. He was vague and said he just wanted to take his child home.  She made some other attempt to find out what happened- she asked her daughters. She asked her husband (of course he wasn’t going to tell the truth).  Baffled, she gave up.  Later, when she found out what sort of monster she was married to, she realized what had probably happened. Over the years, there were three other little girls who were not allowed to spend the night at the preacher’s house any more.  Once the wife broke free of her husband and started blogging about it, one of those children, now grown, wrote to her anonymously and said:

 “I’m the girl whose father wouldn’t let her stay overnight at your house anymore.  I was afraid to say anything.  I never told your girls.  Ever.  But, I called my dad real early in the morning to come get me.  Mr. Hinton did things to me in the woods.”

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m angry…’

She blogs now to beg with people not to be as naive and gullible as she was, to do what it takes to protect the children.

“Since John’s arrest I have heard from two girls who were fondled, touched, and groped by John in the dark at our home!!!  This was done while many other people were around!  And, not one of the girls spoke up.  Why?  Oh, my goodness, that’s easy to understand.  This was Mr. Hinton — the preacher, the most loved guy in the community.  Who would believe this about him?  Besides, can you imagine the shock of these girls?  Can you imagine the humiliation?  I’m so sorry to be writing these things, and God forbid, please don’t let me be hurting them more than they’ve already been hurt by talking about this.  This is horrible — the horrible truth.  It’s sickening and so wrong.

And, yet it happened.  I’m so, so sorry that this happened.

Please, I ask of you, don’t sit in silence like I did!  Press for answers.  I felt so wrong for questioning John about anything.  I thought it was my Christian duty to believe him — always! He was my husband, my preacher, the man I looked to for guidance and strength.  How wrong I was!  On so many things, I was wrong!  I took him at his word, and his words were so full of lies.

Pedophiles who molest children are liars.”

You know who else we can say are liars?  Those involved in any sexual sin, but especially those sexual sins involving coercion, abuse of power and authority.  Abusive, charismatic, con-artists- they are lying liars who lie: 

“Manipulation, lies, and secrecy drive the engine of sexual abuse.  Because it is so secretive, it is impossible to gauge whether a sex offender is ever truly repentant.  Good hard statistics show that the vast majority of sex offenders re-offend when put back into a high risk setting, such as a church.”

That paragraph comes from Jimmy Hinton.  He is one of the sons of the above mentioned blogger and the serial child molester. Jimmy Hinton is now preaching at the congregation where his father preached. He is speaking out against abuse in the church – how to spot it, how to protect victims, how to prevent it, how to deal with it- and, God forgive us, how not to deal with it (there’s ‘language.’ I’m not apologizing for it):

“…many churches are unknowingly siding with child abusers by allowing them into services with children.  Imagine, for a moment, that you are in the shoes of a survivor of abuse.  At 3 years old (my daughter’s age), you are forced to perform oral sex on your uncle when he takes you out for ice cream.  You are told, as many victims of abuse are, that this is what good little boys and girls do, and that this is what God wants you to do.  You believe that the sex is your fault, and that if you tell everyone else will think it’s your fault.  So you keep it inside, as 95% of abused children do.  Fast forward a few years.  You are (reluctantly) at church.  An elder gets up and tells the church that brother George has had attractions to children but has repented and we need to love him as Jesus does, no questions asked.  “Forgive and forget,” he says.  Warm hugs are exchanged and tears are streaming down their cheeks.  Meanwhile George, as he’s walking back to his seat, tussles your hair along the way.  In an instant, you begin reliving your childhood abuse all over again.  These are the things that re-victimize children all the time.  A survivor of abuse once told me, with her head in her hands, “How the hell can I ever trust God or the church again?”  Until we protect our children and the vulnerable, it’s not going to happen.”

 

‘…Woe, woe
Hope is a mannequin, Hope is a mannequin
Love is a battlefield, Love is a battlefield…’

I can’t really call what’s going on in churches a battlefield, because mostly nobody is fighting back.  Christians remain ignorant, sometimes naively, sometimes willfully.  Predators continue to prey. Jimmy Hinton, partnered with two others with unwanted expertise in the field of child sex abuse, conducts workshops on the subject.  You can see one of them here.  He writes:

“I long to see the day when children and survivors of abuse feel safe in our churches.  One young child, after disclosing abuse to her mother by her minister, was not believed by the mom.  The mom spoke with the minister—the alleged perpetrator—and was convinced that her little girl was mistaken.  The minister recommended that the mom visit another church just to get a second opinion.  When the mother and girl showed up to the other church, the girl was forced to go into a room alone with 4 men, including the preacher who had molested her!  I grow weary of the stories I hear when pedophiles have groups of church supporters in the courtroom while the victim takes the stand alone.  What message is this sending?  And the stories of children being forced to face their abuser and forgive him. . . it’s unbearable.”

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m angry…’

I realize that the big case that is sparking this discussion across so many blogs you might not ordinarily see it is not about a case of a child molester.  But it is a case of sexual abuse, due to the position of power that Doug Philips had over his victim, and I will indeed use that term.  If this had happened in a workplace, he would have been fired and already in court a long time back.

 And the reactions are very similar.

““Just get over it.” “Move on.” Fear is the number one reason children don’t tell. Fear that nobody will believe them. Fear that they will be punished for telling. Fear that telling will cause a divorce. Fear that the public will find out that they have been molested. Fear that they will have to go to trial and face their abuser. You get the picture.

I’ve heard people ask survivors why they waited so long to tell someone. It’s usually framed in an accusatory question like, “If the abuse was really as bad as you say, why would you wait until you were all grown up to say something about it?” Says the person who was never sexually assaulted as a child. Interestingly, pedophiles commonly use the same argument but with a different agenda. It goes something like this: “If she really didn’t like it, she would have told me to stop.” Says the person who threatened the child that if he tells, something bad will happen to him or his family.”

‘…I ain’t playin’ those games, ain’t playing those games
All prejudice is just inane
My brothers blood from the ground cries out
Let’s stop this bloodstained freedom shout…’

Bobby McFerrin’s song is about prejudice, racial prejudice.  We are guilty of prejudice of another kind in these matters.  We think blame should be assigned equally if both parties are legal adults, even when their circumstances, lives, power, resources and more are most certainly not equal, even when the more powerful party has been playing mind games and grooming the other party for several years, even when the weaker party is the one who puts a stop to it, leaves, and tells, and the more powerful party is still minimizing what happened, and trying to play word games.  Worse is when we don’t even want to try for the false standard of ‘equal,’ but would rather spend more time blaming the woman.  We talk about manhood, but when it comes to their sex drive, we treat men like adolescent animals with no more expectations that they will be responsible and use their god-given brains and will power and supposed powers of logic and discernment than we would have of a dog in heat.  Is that crude?  What I am describing is crude and unbiblical. I don’t know another way to talk about it, and it needs to be talked about.

People want to be in denial for terrible reasons.

People want to be in denial out of fear, as well, because it’s a gross, ugly, disturbing, frightening thing to think about- so many of our fears are involved, and, of course, it means we’ve been stupid about somebody, fooled, deceived. We want to believe it couldn’t happen to us, or to our kids, so there must be something else going on, or more to the story that would make it less frightening to us.

It’s selfish, because while we are telling ourselves fairy tales and taradiddles, there sit the victims who mustered up great courage and trembling will to be able to say anything at all, and our reaction is to leave them in the cold, alone, in a cloud of doubt and suspicion, questioning them again and again, making them tell and retell what is so agonizing to say in the first place.

‘…Hope is a mannequin…’


We give credence to those who sit up straight and look us in the eye and tell the same consistent story and doubt the weak who fumble, cry, and sound confused.  We are so ignorant. Abusers are master manipulators and can make you question your belief that the sky is blue if that’s what they want to do.

They also test their potential victims as well as the people around them.  They are not only looking for victims, they are looking for gullible or complicit stooges to provide protective cover – I’ve read elsewhere that DP had a habit of making off color, possibly crude remarks around the young men seeking to be his interns- they were innuendos, capable of being taken as pure filth, or possibly perceived by the naive as innocent remarks. Those who let him know they recognized the double meaning and were surprised/disappointed, or even just thought he was innocent but would want to know- they did not pass the internship process.

I don’t know if that’s true of DP or not- updated to add: and please note that a friend of mine who knows him well says it is not, and he used his own name, as the person who says otherwise did not- but let’s not miss the bigger point.  You can remove Doug Philips and Vision Forum references from this entire post, and the larger issues across the church remain the same.

I know it’s often true of people in power who are also abusive.  They don’t want people in their inner circle who will call them on it.  People like this occasionally do and say things that are borderline to the point that you are the one questioning your own eyes and ears- did you really just hear that? Or wait, what if it’s just your own dirty mind? You end up being ashamed, but he is actually the one who said or did whatever it is that you noticed. They are seeing what they can get away with in front of you. They are seeding self-doubt.  They are figuring out who they have to be really careful with, and who they can manipulate.  This is one of the signs to watch for- does somebody sometimes say or do things that are just ever so subtly off, but you end up feeling embarrassed and ashamed of yourself for what you think you heard or saw?  Is there somebody you know who makes you doubt yourself and your own eyes and ears?   That’s a huge warning signal.


It takes a strong mind, a lot of discernment, and an independent will to recognize and resist.

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m angry…’

Several years back I wrote to somebody that if Patriarchal leaders were really interested in protecting women and children, they needed to recognize that some of their message was going to attract the ‘wrong’ sort- those looking for protective cover for crimes and acts of tyranny (those tyrants are everywhere, and they seek cover where they find it- in politics, in influential media, in social work, in education, in religion).  Leaders should use their bully pulpit, I said naively, as a warning to tyrants and a lighthouse to those the tyrants in their midst would victimize, “We know you’re out there, and that’s not okay with us.  Women, children, this should be a safe and protected place for you, too, and it’s not okay if your husband/father is abusive.  If things like this…. (and I suggested specificity) are occurring in your home, let us know. We will take care of it.”

I naively thought that the reason they didn’t was because they were themselves not sufficiently aware of how many tyrants actually do exist.   And while that is undoubtedly true of a few,  I have more than sufficient experience and reason to know better than to be that stupid.  I am reaching the point where anybody who is not comfortable with this kind of approach is somebody who raises suspicions.

‘…I’m mad, I’m mad, I’m angry…’

Supposedly, I have also read, all this publicity over the Doug Philips issue is giving the church a black eye.  No, it’s not.  What is giving the public image many people have of Christianity a black eye is those who defend DP, those who try to divert attention from what he did to who he did it with and how guilty she is, and those who want to hide the sin rather that lance it and disinfect the pollutant.

One of these parties was a man of great power and influence in the homeschooling community, a self appointed leader and somebody who claimed to speak for God. His actions are at odds with his preaching and teaching. We have every right to call him to account for that. I’m not sure why so many people want to turn the focus off of him and onto the girl who was not a leader, not a teacher, almost unknown, and of little to no influence outside her immediate circle.

I think there is entirely too much interest in discussing how much we can blame and shame the person of lower status in her community, low power, lower age, lower choice of resources, and the one who, ultimately, DID cry out, she ended the relationship, she asked for it to stop, she made it stop- and the older, far more powerful man actually tried to climb into her bedroom window at night (and was chased away), and then came back with his wife in tow to try to meet with her again and convince the girl’s parents to let the relationship continue, and who actually said in front of his wife that he wanted to continue to be friends with the girl.

The Bible says that to whom much is given, much is required. She had little. He had much, both in the world’s riches and in influence and power. The Bible says let not many become teachers, because they will incur a stricter judgement- the focus on DP is just, right, and scriptural.

And about this crying out- I was a mouthy, in your face, rebellious 15 or 16 year old teen who never submitted to authority and prided myself on that.  Late one night (or rather early one dark morning) when I was walking back home after I had sneaked out of my window in the wee hours of the morning to go to an unauthorized party, I heard a rattle in the bushes of the alley I had to pass to get home.  A man stepped out, asked me my name, and like an idiot instead of running, I told him.  I was known for my sassy mouth, my full blown rebellion against all adults, yet I still was struck dumb and immobile, like a bird in front of a striking snake.

He grabbed me, picked me up and carried me into the alley- I remained shocked, stunned, and totally immobile the whole time.  As he threw me to the ground he ordered, “Don’t scream,” and it was only then that it occurred to me that this is probably exactly what I should do.  I screamed and thrashed.  It startled him (probably because I had been so bizarrely silent and still up until that moment) and he let go and I bounded off like a deer- I knew the neighborhood better so I was well hidden in seconds. He got back in his car and sped off.  Nobody came out to investigate. I made my way home, terrified, sneaking back into my bedroom and I never told anybody anything about it until years later.   I still don’t like to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t told me not to scream.

But based on many of the comments I am reading, if I had remained too shocked to scream and had  been raped and still too ashamed to mention it for years, I would have been guilty of sinning.

‘…I ain’t playin’ those games, ain’t playing those games…’

 

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